Health & WellnessS


Drug maker accused of cover-up - Documents show side effects of Eli Lilly schizophrenia pill were played down in marketing

Drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decadelong effort to downplay the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers.

The documents, given to the New York Times by a lawyer representing mentally ill patients, show that Lilly executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa's links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar - both known risk factors for diabetes.


Breast cancer may be sexually transmitted

Breast cancer could be sexually transmitted, says a researcher who has found the same virus that causes cervical cancer in breast cancer tumours from Australian women.

Emeritus Professor James Lawson of the University of New South Wales and colleagues have found the same form of the human papillomavirus (HPV) associated with cervical cancer in almost half the breast tumour samples they tested.

It's the first study of its kind in Australia, although international studies have also found cervical cancer-related HPV in breast cancer cells.

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Dramatic Drop in Breast Cancer Could Link to Hormones

A sharp drop in breast cancer cases in 2003 has many researchers pointing to the fact that millions of women quit hormone replacement therapy in 2002.

But others have doubts that quitting HRT could alone produce such a steep drop.

The 7 percent drop in breast cancer cases between 2002 and 2003 means about 14,000 fewer women in the United States were diagnosed with the disease. Most of these women were between 50 and 69 years old.

"It's very, very compelling that this is not random variability, that there is something very clear and dramatic that happened," said Dr. Donald Berry, professor and chairman of biostatistics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, during an interview with ABC News correspondent John McKenzie.

McKenzie also talked to Dr. Eric Winer of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, who said, "Any downward trend would be important. But this drop, and a drop this size in a couple of years, is really very major news."

The drop is significant in that it could be the single largest year-on-year reduction in new breast cancer cases ever recorded.

"It is biologically plausible, and there is no other glaring change in public health to explain the change," said Dr. Clifford Hudis, chief of the Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "This is more evidence that HRT is risky in terms of breast cancer."


Woman gets double hand transplant

A Spanish woman has been given the world's first double hand transplant, doctors have disclosed.

The patient, known only as Alba, was said to be recovering well after the 10-hour, pioneering operation in which surgeons used microscopic technology to attach an anonymous donor's hands to her arms. The 47-year-old, whose hands were amputated after a laboratory explosion 20 years ago, was pleased with the results. "They look beautiful," she said.


Man with no pulse considered a medical breakthrough

Montreal - A 65-year-old Quebec man who received a new long-term mechanical heart last month is being described as the only living Canadian without a pulse.

Dr. Renzo Cecere implanted the "Heartmate II" mechanical heart into Gerard Langevin in an three-hour operation Nov. 23.

Officials at the McGill University Health Centre say the device, which is about the size of a flashlight battery, could last up to 10 years.

That is longer than other models which are thought to be good for only two or three years.


Young males more likely to act on suicidal thoughts: study

Toronto - While young Canadian women tend to experience depression and thoughts of suicide more than men, the men are more likely to act on their suicidal thoughts, says a new study on depression and suicide among teens.

The study, compiled by psychiatrists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, found links between "suicidality" and age, income levels and where a teen lives in Canada.

Male teens in B.C. had the highest attempted suicide rate, while those in Quebec reported the highest rate of depression.

Nearly a quarter of the female teens from B.C. who took part in the study reported having had suicidal thoughts.


Women told to keep the Pill with the plasters

The leading sexual health care charity steps into a major row today by urging women to keep the "morning-after" pill alongside plasters and paracetamol in the bathroom, in case they have unprotected sex. [...]

However, critics said the BPAS was encouraging reckless behaviour and lack of self-control.


Tissue 'bridge' joins twins' brains - Conjoined infants may be able to transmit signals to each other

Vancouver- Twins Tatiana and Krista Hogan were a medical marvel when they were born sharing a skull. Now, seven weeks later, doctors say they have discovered a baffling "bridge" of tissue connecting the girls' brains, raising the spectre that they can transmit certain brain signals to one another.

Recent scans show that part of the infants' upper brain stems are connected by a corridor of tissue, doctors told reporters yesterday at the British Columbia Women's Hospital and Health Centre.

However, pediatric neurosurgeon Doug Cochrane said it could take months for doctors to determine what kind of information is carried along this brain bridge and what it means for the girls' future.


Pill promises an end to the pain of periods

A contraceptive pill that promises to end the misery of menstruation for millions of women has been proved safe and effective for the first time.

The medicine, called Lybrel, was taken every day for a year and halted periods in more than half of the 2,000 women who used it.

It is the first pill specifically designed to eliminate the fertility cycle which many regard as central to womanhood. Ordinary oral contraceptives are taken for 21 days a month, with a break of seven days during which the woman has her period, preserving the biological rhythm.


Psy-ops: Circumcision can cut risk of HIV in men, study finds

Circumcising men cuts their risk of being infected with the Aids virus in half, and could prevent hundreds of thousands or even millions of new infections, researchers said yesterday.

Circumcising men worked so well that the researchers stopped two large clinical trials in Kenya and Uganda to announce the results, although they cautioned that the procedure does not make men immune to the virus.

Experts say the reduced risk may be because cells on the inside of the foreskin are susceptible to HIV infection.

Comment: Don't believe everything you read.